Teaching Social Studies in the Elementary School – EDUC 636

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

An analysis of trends and practices of teaching social studies in the elementary school. An emphasis will be made on how to transfer theory into practice through preparation of activities and materials appropriate for the elementary classroom and critical reflection on those very materials and approaches. Students will plan instruction considering student-based diversity, instructional demands of the field and the best integration of other tools and disciplines. Teaching candidates will be required to prepare these instructional elements focused on the Virginia Standards of Learning.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Cognitive skills evolved from the need to place a heavier emphasis on content being developed in the General Studies while the technique for communicating those skills to elementary grade children has been designated as the role of the School of Education. In the area of social sciences, the focus must be upon the development of cognate skills as opposed to the mere retention of facts. Current teachers must stay abreast of the latest approaches to instructional practice in elementary social studies, to include general philosophical approaches and specific tools and techniques.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes (MLO: A, B, D)

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the candidate will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (6)

There will be 6 Discussions in this course. The original post (thread) to the Discussion question posed must be 400–500 words. This parameter helps to promote writing that is both thorough and yet concise enough to permit other candidates to read all the posts. Appropriate references must be made in current APA format. The candidate is allowed to use first person voice in his/her posts. There are to be at least 2 replies to other candidates’ original threads. Each interaction reply must be between 200–250 words. (CLO: A, B, C, D).

Technology Portfolio

For this assignment, the candidate will identify forms and applications of technology for use in an elementary school social studies classroom and will describe the general applications of these technologies, specific applied activities in the general social studies arena, and provide an evaluation. A portfolio of 10 technologies that could be used in an elementary school social studies classroom, identifying general uses, aligned appropriate national social studies standards, potential activities, and good and bad points to that technology’s use is to be developed. (CLO: A, C, D., E)

Literature Review

Literature Review: Topic Submission

The candidate will select a topic in the general area of social studies instruction in elementary grade education to research and analyze literature on the topic's latest trends and issues. 

Literature Review: Presentation

The candidate will examine accompanying literature related to their selected topic to identify its latest trends and issues. Results will be put into a PowerPoint presentation of 10–20 slides to identify these trends in elementary social studies education associated with a set of identified articles in the literature. (CLO: A, B, C, D, E).

Lesson Plan

Each candidate is expected to complete a standard lesson plan as part of this course. The standard lesson plan format provided must be used and all materials must be included in the final submission. (CLO: A, D, E, F)

Civics Education Module

The candidate will complete VDOE’s Civics Education Module. The civics module serve as online training that is required for candidates seeking the elementary endorsement or the middle and/or secondary social science endorsement.  Upon completion of the module, the candidate will be granted a certificate of completion.

Unit Portfolio

Each candidate will produce a unit of instruction. The elements are provided within the course. The plan will be given as a PowerPoint presentation with a maximum of 20 slides. The intent of this project is to help the candidate see the big picture for instructional design with regard to a specific topic. (CLO, A, C, D, E, F)

Strategies Portfolio

Each candidate will select 15 chapters from the Obenchain textbook and write a strategy similar to what the text teaches. (CLO: A, B, C, D, E, F)